Are publishers in the UK exempt from VAT?
To help the news industry weather the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, a long-awaited decision to remove value added tax (VAT) from digital news sites was brought forward by the UK government and implemented in May this year. This change brings the tax status for digital news in line with that for physical newspapers, which have been VAT exempted for decades, to promote informed public debate through quality journalism.
How does this affect what I pay for an FT subscription?
The price of a digital FT subscription or a print and digital bundle remains the same. As a subscriber your invoice will include a mention of VAT at 0% instead of 20% from 1 July 2020.
Why aren’t you passing the savings on to your customers?
The FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism as a champion of better business has never been more important than it is today, and we are deeply committed to delivering that mission. We will reinvest any savings from the VAT exemption into our people and our products, which means we can continue to deliver, and invest in, the high quality journalism that our readers rely on.
As a subscriber you will see changes to our offering that include improvements to FT.com, mobile formats and video and audio journalism; and a number of new editorial products focused on energy, the business of sport, and climate change. We are also increasing access to quality news for more people by providing free ft.com content to students in secondary schools and making our essential coronavirus news free to read for all.
Why was there a delay in amending the VAT?
A change like this requires significant updates to many of our internal processing systems. The UK government confirmed on 4 June that online news sites, including FT.com, would be eligible for zero-rated VAT. We are working hard to make the necessary system updates by 1 July.
I have a combined newspaper and FT.com subscription (a “bundle") - am I affected?
The newspaper component of this type of subscription is already zero-rated for VAT. The FT.com component of your subscription is now also zero-rated for VAT. You will see this change on your invoices from 1 July 2020.
Am I due a refund?
If you paid a subscription charge for either an FT.com subscription or a “bundle” FT.com and print subscription between 1 May 2020 and 30th June 2020, your subscription charge will have included VAT because of the delay in our systems update. We are legally obliged to refund the VAT amount charged for this time period only, and you will automatically receive a refund via your usual payment method after July 1st 2020. We will email you nearer the time to confirm the amount and date.
I am an annual subscriber, and I renewed or paid before 1 May 2020 for a subscription that continues after 1 May 2020. Will I get a refund?
The zero-rating of VAT came into effect on 1 May 2020, so when you paid for your subscription, the VAT was applied at 20%, and the FT will pass that VAT to HMRC.
When will I get my refund? How is the refund calculated? Can I change which account the refund goes to?
We are working as fast we can to process all refunds. We will notify you by email as soon as we are able to confirm when your refund will be made, and will refund you within 14 days of the refund confirmation email, using the payment details with which you made your last payment. A refund will be issued for any payments made between 1 May and 30 June 2020 where the VAT charge was outlined as 20% and the relevant invoices for that period will be updated to reflect the 0% VAT change. Unfortunately, we cannot change the details of where that refund will be sent or any other details on the revised invoices.